April 22, 2019

Dwyane Wade scores a triple-double for the Miami Heat in the last NBA game of his career, which was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY 

Wow, what an NBA season it has been for the Brooklyn Nets. During the 2018-19 NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets have seen their share of adversities, but managed to push through and earned an NBA playoff spot. This will be the Brooklyn Nets first appearance in the NBA playoffs since 2015. Few observers at the beginning of the season predicted this team would be in the playoffs, as this season alone has been a rough ride getting here. Nevertheless, on Sunday, after defeating the Indiana Pacers, 108-96, the Nets improved its overall record to 41-40 and clinched a playoff spot.

With the Detroit Pistons’ losses and Orlando Magic’s wins against their respective opponents between Sunday and Wednesday night, the Nets earned a sixth-seeded playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference last night after defeating the Miami Heat 113-94.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 20 minutes. Shabazz Napier posted 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 30 minutes off the bench; Rodions Kurucs totaled 15 points, nine rebounds and two steals in 28 minutes; Treveon Graham added 11 points, and; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert each chipped in 10 points respectively. Hollis-Jefferson, who came off the bench, added 12 rebounds, three assists, and three steals to his points total, while LeVert added three rebounds and four assists.

Miami Heat’s guard Dwyane Wade, who played his last NBA game last night, scored a triple-double: a game-high 25 points, a team-high-tying 11 rebounds, and a game-high 10 assists in 36 minutes. Also, for Miami, Duncan Robinson accumulated 15 points, five rebounds, and three assists; Derrick Jones Jr. registered 13 points and four rebounds; Udonis Haslem scored 12 points and 11 rebounds, and; Bam Adebayo chipped in 10 points and six rebounds.

It was fitting that Dwyane Wade, who was playing the last game of his NBA career, scored a triple-double on his way out the door, but it almost didn’t happen.

“Yeah, probably literally an hour before the game he and I were talking,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told the assembled media postgame. “He had been on the table. The entire time he was here he did a bunch of treatment – at the hotel this morning. This morning he texted me saying he didn’t know if he would be able to go. He asked me what I thought, how he could make it worthwhile for everybody. He felt such a responsibility. We just said okay, we’ll see how you feel after treatment and get a little more rest until we get to the arena. I talked to him an hour before tip and he still didn’t feel great. His knee, his leg, wasn’t moving great. Just in typical Dwyane fashion he just figured he had to be there.”

“Since so many Dwyane Wade and Miami fans showed up, he felt such a responsibility,” Spoelstra continued. “That’s so awesome. I said this before – his next book has got to be called Moments. He knows how to capture moments as well as anybody that’s ever played this game. To play this game when he didn’t feel great and get a triple-double and get his last assist to Udonis Haslem the definition of capturing these moments and really giving everybody what they wanted.”

Asked whether he could have scripted it any better with a triple-double in his last game, Dwyane Wade responded: “No, I couldn’t have. Coming into a game like tonight, a bit out of the playoffs, for myself, these are tough games to play when you’re not playing for anything. I’m not the kind of player that will come out and just shoot the ball every time. Coming into the game, I wanted to see what I could do. To be able to help my teammates, definitely helped me out a lot to hear everyone cheering for me, to be able to go out that way was pretty cool. I don’t think about the Kansas game, but it was the same way in college. I got a triple-double towards the end then so that was pretty cool.”

With all the love heaped on Dwyane Wade last night, it was a challenge for the Brooklyn Nets to stay focus on the goal of getting a win despite having clinched a playoff spot, but with some work, they managed.

“You have to stay locked in,” Nets guard D’Angelo Russell said. “But all the love and support that he has brought to this game and the love and support that he is getting on his way out is well deserved. You have to figure out a way to stay locked in but participate in the festivities as well. That dude is a legend. Just to see him on his way out like that, for me, it’s special. I got to be a part of Kobe’s (Bryant) and his, so I take that in a lot. It’s great to be on the floor.”

You can watch the first game featuring the Brooklyn Nets against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs on Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Philadelphia at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The second game is scheduled for Monday, April 15, 2019, at 8:00 p.m., and can be seen on TNT. Next, the Nets return home to the Barclays Center to play Game 3 on Thursday, April 18, 2019, at 8:00 p.m., and Game 4 on Saturday at 3:00 p.m., also on TNT.

 

Miami Heat defeats Oklahoma City Thunder 86-85; Kevin Durant misses a last-minute shot that could have tied the game

Like the unpredictability of the stock market on a daily basis, trying to pick the winner of this year's NBA Championship on a game-by-game basis has been just as difficult. Game 1 saw the Miami Heat jump out to an early lead, only to have the Oklahoma City Thunder storm back (no pun intended) and steal the victory.

The Heat got off to an even bigger lead in Game 2 but the Thunder, after a furious comeback saw their star Kevin Durant miss a last-second shot that would have tied the game. With the series tied at one game apiece, the scene shifted to Miami for the next 3 games.
Oklahoma, playing in one of the loudest arenas in all of basketball, did not allow Miami to get off to a fast start as they did in the first two games although the Heat never trailed in the first period. LeBron James scored 10 points and Chris Bosh, starting his second straight game, chipped in six. Prior to the game, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks was asked if Bosh is all the way back from the injury that kept him out for all but one game in the Indiana series and all of the games against the Celtics.

"I think he's fine," Brooks opined. "I think anytime you step on the court, you are 100 percent."

Miami extended their lead to eight points in the second (30-22) after a Mike Miller block of a Kevin Durant shot led to a James lay-up. The Thunder responded by outscoring the Heat 24-17 the rest of the way to trail by 1 at the half. Durant and Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma with 13 each while James added six more. OKC's defense stifled Miami as they just shot 41% from the floor missing 7 of 9 three-point attempts. The Thunder took that momentum and carried it over to start the third.

Trailing by three (49-46), the Thunder takes the biggest lead of the game 64-54 after crafty veteran Derek Fisher nails a 3-pointer, getting fouled by James Harden. He calmly sinks the free-throw making him only the 12th player to accomplish such a feat. It must have awakened the Heat, as they went on to outscore Oklahoma 15-3 the rest of the way to take a 2 point lead (69-67) entering the final period. Dwyane Wade scored 6 of those points with James hitting a 3-pointer to give them the lead. It set up yet again a final period to what has been a stomach-turning series for both teams and their fans.

For more than 8 minutes, neither team could extend the lead to more than 4 points. Then James follows a dunk with a free-throw putting the Heat up by 7 (84-77) with 3:47 to go. Trailing by seven again, the Thunder clawed back to within one (86-85) with 6 straight points. That's as close as they would get as Miami hit five of their last six free-throw attempts. The Thunder did not help its own cause melting down by turning the ball over as Westbrook inexplicably threw the ball in the wrong direction after missing a three-point attempt.
Miami escaped with the win and a two-game to one lead in the series despite shooting only 37.8% from the floor and a skinny 30.8% from 3-point land. When your team converts 31 of 35 free throws, while the other team misses 9 (15 of 24) it makes a big difference in the outcome.

"I think what we focus on is every game is a different challenge," Heat's head coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward. "You have to find ways to put yourself in the position to win."

Brooks didn't come across as deflated noting that as in the other two games, this game was just as intense.

"I thought we did some good things, he said. Give them credit. They're a very physical team. I thought both teams played as hard as they can play."

Miami Heat ends Lin-sanity and shows the New York Knicks who's "bigger, stronger, meaner and faster"

About 400 miles from where the NBA is setting up for the second biggest league event (the NBA Finals is the first), the New York Knicks were in Miami facing the Heat who were on a 7 game winning streak. The New York Knicks felt good about themselves coming into the game after demolishing the Atlanta Hawks the night before at Madison Square Garden. They were hoping that momentum would carry over and the combination of Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony in the offense would improve. The Heat had other thoughts as they came out in the immortal words of rapper Kanye West, "bigger, stronger, meaner and faster. In their 102-88 win over the Knicks, the Miami Heat 4 players score in double figures led by Chris Bosh with 25 points. It's what they did on the defensive end that suffocated the Knicks and in particular phenom Lin who was warned before the game that Miami would throw every defensive scheme his way every time he touched the ball.

Miami came out like a "pack of wild dogs" the term used by legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants when he wanted to get his team fired up. The Knicks did not wilt from the first wave of the Heat's pressure. In fact, the Knicks only trailed by 4 points (24-20) after the first period despite Lin's 3 turnovers. Things would only get worse for Lin as he finished the night missing 10 of 11 shots and turning the ball over 8 times.

The third period is when it all began to unravel for New York. They began the period down by 4 points again (51-47) when the Heat took total control. After Lin and Anthony converted 4 straight free throws to get within 2 (53-51) Miami responded by scoring the next 6 points. Before you could say Lin-Sanity, the Heat then outscored New York 27-15 the rest of the way to take a 14 point (80-66) lead. The Heat defense only allowed the Knicks 19 points. Miami then put the game on cruise control as the Knicks could only get within 9 points (82-73) with a little over 9 minutes left in the game.

The bench play that was supposed be a big part of the Knicks since they got Baron Davis back from injury, and the signing of J.R. Smith, was a non-factor in the game. Although Smith did contribute 14 points Davis struggled mightily. He missed all 7 shot attempts finishing the game with zero points. Steve Novak continued his hot shooting nailing 4 of 5 three-pointers for 12 points. Anthony led all Knicks scorers with 19 points.

It wasn't the way the Knicks wanted to end the first half of the year, losing to a team that is expected to not only get to the NBA Finals but to win it all. For one night Lin was brought back to earth by a team who was hell-bent on not letting the Lin-Sanity continue. Said Heat's head coach Erik Spoelstra, "we wanted to treat him (Lin) with the adequate respect he deserves."

NBA All-Star weekend takes center stage tonight as the Celebrity All-Star game and Rising Stars Challenge takes place at the Amway Center. Jeremy Lin has been chosen to be on the team that will be coached by Shaquille O' Neal.

The Nets continue to lead early, but is still having troubling closing the deal

On January 25, 2017, the Miami Heat overcame an 18-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter and used a 15-2 run in final 4:35 to beat the Brooklyn Nets 109-106. Last night, the Heat came back to Brooklyn and the Nets pulled out the same playbook, led early and then gave up the lead in the end.  In so doing, the Heat overcame an 11-point, third-quarter deficit to capture a 108-99 victory.

"I don't what it is against [Brooklyn] but they always take the lead against us," said Miami guard Goran Dragic who scored 21 points and five assists. "I'm proud of our guys, how we responded and came back."

“Sometimes you just have to dig really deep and Brooklyn forced us to have to do that,” Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the game. “It’s whatever it takes. The habit we’ve been taking all season long is that we’re a team that it takes a village. There’s not necessarily going to be one guy every single night to defend. We have to do it five-man basketball. Offensively, it’s different guys making different contributions on different nights.”

The Heat scorched the Nets in the second half, outscoring Brooklyn, 34-27, in the fourth. Again, turnovers worked against the Nets. Brooklyn had 22 turnovers to Miami’s 14.

“You felt it,” said Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson regarding the Nets turnovers and pressure from the Heat. “They made every catch tough. Bringing the ball up was a task, sideline out-of-bounds was a task. We had trouble getting open, so we’ll have to go back to the drawing board now and try to help our guys when the pressure is turned up like that, but credit to them. Again, I thought that small lineup really hurt us.”

“They hit us at a certain point and their physicality definitely had an effect,” Brook Lopez told reporters about the Heat’s defensive pressure. “I think we responded well but that initial bout, you know we definitely turned the ball over and they made a run but again I think we responded and we definitely went right back at them.”

In the loss, Lopez had a game-high 30 points and eight rebounds. Randy Foye scored 15 points (5-of-9 FG, 1-of-2 3FG, 4-of-4 FT) in 26 minutes tonight vs. the Heat. Foye’s 15 points last night mark his second-highest scoring output this season (behind a season-high 16 points on January 27th at Cleveland). Bojan Bogdanovic totaled 10 points with six rebounds in 29 minutes vs. Miami. Spencer Dinwiddie recorded a season-high-tying eight assists in 19 minutes tonight (he previously recorded eight assists on January 15th vs. Houston).

With this loss, the Nets fell to 9-45 overall and 7-22 at home. The Nets will host the Memphis Grizzlies next on Monday, February 13, at 7:30 p.m. EST at Barclays Center.

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